Sex discrimination at work
Of all types of discrimination such as sex discrimination and disputes related to equal pay have been the most litigated in Tribunals in 2016 and 2017. If you are also being treated unfairly because of your sex, we can support you.
Who is the law protecting?
- Statutory protection– Employees are protected from being discriminated against, harassed or victimised because of their sex in the Equality Act 2010. It protects both job applicants and those “in employment” under a contract of employment, a contract of apprenticeship or a contract personally to do work.
- Meaning of sex– Sex means being a man or a woman, men share this characteristic with other men, and women with other women. Hence, sex does not include gender reassignment or sexual orientation, which are also protected grounds under the Equality Act but under other provisions.
Types of protections-
- Direct discrimination- Direct sex discrimination occurs when, because of sex, one person is being treated less favourably than another person of the opposite sex whose circumstances are not materially different. The test applied by Tribunals is rather lax, it is enough that the claimant “could reasonably say that he [or she] would have preferred not to have been treated differently” (Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police v Khan  ICR 1065). There is no need for a claimant to show that, objectively speaking, they are less well-off as a result of the employer’s action.
- Indirect discrimination- Indirect sex discrimination occurs where:
- Someone applies to the victim a provision, criterion or practice (PCP)- The concept of a PCP is broad, covering such things as recruitment criteria, employment policies, informal practices and even one-off decisions,
- That someone applies (or would apply) that PCP to persons not of the same sex as the victim,
- The PCP puts or would put persons of victim’s sex at a particular disadvantage,
- The PCP puts or would put the victim at that disadvantage,
- The person enacting the PCP cannot justify it by showing it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
- Harassment– Which includes harassment related to sex, sexual harassment or less favourable treatment because the employee rejects or submits to harassment.
- Sex harassment– Sex harassment occurs where: someone engages in unwanted conduct related to sex; and the conduct has the purpose or effect of either violating the victim’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim. The judge will take into account the victim’s perception, all the circumstances of the case and whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have effect.
- Sexual harassment- Someone engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. The conduct has the purpose or effect of either violating the victim’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim. The judge will take into account the same factors mentioned in sex harassment.
- Less favourable treatment for rejecting or submitting to harassment- It happens when someone engages in either unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or unwanted conduct that is related to sex. The conduct has the purpose or effect of either violating the victim’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim; and because of the victim’s rejection of or submission to the conduct, the victim is treated less favourably than others who did not reject or submit to the conduct.
- Victimisation- Victimisation occurs where a person subjects the victim to a detriment because the victim has done, intends to do, or is suspected of doing or intending to do, any of the following protected acts:
- Bringing proceedings under the Equality Act 2010,
- Giving evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Equality Act 2010, regardless of who brought those proceedings,
- Doing any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the Equality Act 2010,
- Alleging that the discriminator or any other person has contravened the Equality Act 2010.